of this blog & my life
Transliterated Lithos, the Greek word λίθος means jade, rock, stone; semiprecious stone, gem, gemstone, jewel, precious stone. In some uses, λίθος refers to a flat stone with an inscription, or a stone tablet. The English word lithograph finds its root in this Greek word. The lithograph evolved into the printing press. It’s an interesting connection: stones and words. In Lithos, the two ideas and the two words, stones and words, intertwine.
As I studied the root word Lithos, this idea of inscribed stones–permanent words–and the power of written words profoundly touched me. As a believer, I find spiritual symbolism in Lithos, including the symbolic representation of Jesus as the chief cornerstone. I’ve realized a connection to my deepest passions in this word. Hence, the name of this company, Lithos Consulting & Project Management. (The initials LCPM are also the initials of my family, Leann, Colten, Patrick, & Mike.)
In the New Testament this Greek word λίθος appears in many places, very often in the Gospels. Sometimes λίθος is an instrument of harm or tearing down. More than once,λίθος causes stumbling. Sometimes, λίθος symbolizes virtually the opposite, a good, solid foundation. In several places, λίθος refers to the very foundation of salvation, the building stone.
Twice, the temptations that the devil presented to Jesus involved λίθος: “Command that these stones be turned into bread,” he taunted. “Cast thyself down,” the devil challenged Jesus to prove Himself by testing God’s promise that He would send angels to protect Him. Satan finished the sneer, “…est at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.” Those simple, literal stones the devil referenced in the jealous, snide comments he threw at Jesus symbolized something much more. The words themselves represented the twisting of good into evil. In all his temptations, the devil throws stones at us, twisting words and perverting thoughts.
Several chapters later, Jesus refers to Himself as the rejected λίθος which became the chief cornerstone. In another place, the λίθος is the stone against which some are broken while others are crushed by the λίθος. That rejected λίθος Jesus becomes the Chief Cornerstone, and John called Him the Word. Of course, Jesus also notes that even as the Chief λίθος He will be a stumbling λίθος to some.
In some places, λίθος refers to stones literally cast at a person to inflict grave harm. Jesus prevented such a stoning by challenging the one without sin to cast the first λίθος. He saved the woman from death by speaking words of mercy and each man dropped his λίθος–stone–of judgment. To bring Lazarus back from death, He commanded that the λίθος be rolled away and His words called Lazarus from the tomb. Often people sought to λίθος Jesus to death, but failed. When He finally faced death, His tomb was sealed with aλίθος. When He arose, the angel rolled the λίθος away.
My favorite verses using the word λίθος are found in I Peter and II Corinthians. In these two passages, the Holy Spirit ties together this idea of stones and words, blessings or curses, together.
I Pet 2:4:
- As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him–you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious corner stone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Whether the stone tears down or acts as the foundation, whether it is a stone rolled away at the resurrection or the stone cast to cause death depends upon whether we obey or disobey the message—the Word. Words, like stones, can tear down or build up. The λίθος is our foundation or it crushes us based on the message written in our hearts. If you think it is a bit of a stretch to tie WORD and STONE together or just an interesting coincidence, consider my favorite of all the λίθος verses,
II Cor 3:3:
- You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
For me, λίθος represents the foundation of my faith and reminds me of the power of words, to build up or tear down, to bless or to curse. My goal is to be a living letter from the Chief Cornerstone, for His Word to be engraved on my heart.